A Calabasas-based real estate developer has been indicted in a bankruptcy fraud case that also alleges he laundered funds through shell companies in order to hide them from his creditors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Mark Handel, 66, is charged in a nine-count indictment unsealed Friday with one count of making a false statement in a bankruptcy case, two counts of concealing assets belonging to a bankruptcy estate, one count of falsely testifying under oath at a bankruptcy proceeding, and five counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Handel’s arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 16 in Los Angeles federal court.
According to the indictment, Handel worked as a developer of commercial and residential real estate for more than 30 years. In April 2015, he filed a chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills and subsequently made a series of false statements to avoid debts exceeding $10 million that he owed to creditors, including California Bank and Trust, the indictment alleges.
The indictment further alleges that Handel formed multiple corporations and limited liability companies to conceal his income and his involvement in real estate development projects. Prosecutors allege he purposely failed to put his name on the corporations and entities in order to conceal and disguise his business activities and to deceive his creditors.
Handel used his wife — who had no real estate business experience — and others as nominee partners, managers and owners of the LLCs that he in fact controlled, according to court papers.
Throughout the bankruptcy case, Handel allegedly lied by stating that he was unemployed, had been unemployed for many years, and had no business or income. In reality, he maintained a financial interest in properties in Los Angeles, Orange, and Alameda counties and, from 2008 to 2016, he received over $4.6 million in income as “kickbacks” on an easement as part of a real estate deal, according to the indictment.
If convicted of all charges, Handel would face up to 120 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
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